October 7, 2012

Movie Review: Frankenweenie, a Tim Burton Film

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 Frankenweenie Movie Poster

So, let me start out by saying I’m not a fan of Tim Burton films. I didn’t like The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride. They were a little too “out there” for me. So when I was invited to the Frankenweenie screening I almost passed up the opportunity. But BabyGirl and her BFF really wanted to see it, so we went. And I’m glad I did.

Frankenweenie is based on a story Tim Burton wrote about 30 years ago. The story is classic Tim Burton, but didn’t have the years of being jaded by Hollywood or filmmaking. Disney hit a home run with this film. Macabre and dark, what you’d expect from Tim Burton. But the family-friendly story and the love a little boy has for his dog keeps you connected to the story.

The premise of the movie is a takeoff of the traditional Frankenstein tale, without the adult themes. And a slight twist. Keeping with the black-and-white horror film genre he’s known for, Tim Burton created a visually exciting film despite it’s obvious lack of color palette. The labor-intensive stop-motion animation only added to the depth of the film. And you’re easily transported to 1970s New Holland despite not having the usual visuals in a live action film.

With Tim Burton at the helm you know you’re getting a modern horror flick. With voices by Hollywood veterans Martin Short (Edward Frankenstein, Mr. Bergemeister, Nassor, Dad, Bob), Catherine O’Hara (Victor’s Mom, Gym Teacher, Weird Girl) and Martin Landeau (Mr. Rzykruski) parents hear familiar voices. The young newcomers are excellent and give not only a voice but a personality to their characters.

Rendered in 3D, it’s not visually overwhelming. The end is really where much of the 3D effects add to the dimension of the film. Both BabyGirl and her BFF really liked the movie. This, despite the BFF having just experienced a pet death the day prior. On the way home I didn’t hear any talk of trying to recreate the film to bring back her cat, which is probably a good thing.

The movie is very tame, until the end when it’s more Godzilla-like than Frankenstein. There were some kids crying in the theater, but BabyGirl and her BFF (both 9 years old) thought the movie was awesome. The BFF is a fan of Tim Burton’s horror flicks so I expected her to like it. BabyGirl has never seen a Tim Burton film prior so with this as her first experience I know she’s willing to see more of his work.

The fact the movie was in black and white was lost on some in the audience. But for those of use who remember the original Frankenstein, or even grown up watching the Aadams Family, had the movie not been in black and white it would not have felt authentic.

I liked that the story was generally family-friendly, although I don’t know if it would be appropriate for younger children. There were a few around us at the screening and they really didn’t seem to understand a great deal of it. This film is perfect to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Frankenweenie is rated PG due to some thematic elements, scary images, and some action scenes. I agree with this given that the younger kids at the screening didn’t seem to enjoy it as much.

Official Promotional Details

From creative genius Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” The Nightmare Before Christmas”) comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.

A stop-motion animated film, “Frankenweenie” was filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D. The talented voice cast includes: Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell and Winona Ryder. 

Presented by Disney, “Frankenweenie” is directed by Tim Burton, produced by Tim Burton and Allison Abbate, from a screenplay by John August, based on an original idea by Tim Burton. “Frankenweenie” releases in U.S. theaters on October 5, 2012.

Disclosure: I was invited to a press screening and did not pay to see the movie. I was not required to write about the movie as a condition of the invitation. This post reflects my views and opinions and was not reviewed or edited by a third party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

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